The small hive beetle is in Europe to stay

The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) is an exotic pest originally from Sub Saharan Africa
which can infest honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies, destroying combs and brood often
causing total colony loss. It invaded the southern USA in the 1990s causing significant
economic loss, and has later been found in Australia, Canada and elsewhere. It is subject to
statutory control in most European countries, and contingency plans have been in place for
some years in anticipation of its arrival.

On 11th September 2014 the small hive beetle was discovered by beekeepers in Gioia Tauro, in south west
Italy. The source of the outbreak is currently unknown. Attempts were made to eradicate the beetles, by
killing colonies and treating soil with insecticide, setting up a 20 km protection zone and 100 km surveillance
zone around the infested colonies.

Subsequent investigation has found that it is present in 48 apiaries of 13 bordering municipalities, all of them
concentrated in an area of 10 km radius. Italian beekeepers have asked that the policy of compulsory
destruction be halted, and other measures to avoid spread be implemented.
Dr Franco Mutinelli of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie 2 says: ”Our inspections have
shown us that the beetle is found in strong bee colonies as well as weak ones, in freshly made combs as well
as old ones, and in nucleus colonies as well as full colonies. However, until now the infestation appears
limited to this area of Calabria region”.

The President of the international honey bee protection network COLOSS 1 Prof. Peter Neumann says: “The
COLOSS association is greatly concerned about this discovery, which probably represents the permanent
arrival of this pest into Europe. There is therefore a risk that it will spread to other European countries, but we
cannot yet predict what its effects on the beekeeping industry and other bees might be. COLOSS members will
work together to bring scientific results into practice for the benefit of beekeepers to help them fight this
serious pest”.

COLOSS Press Release SHB November 14.pdf
Supported by

Ricola Foundation


University of Bern

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